Last July 18, 2020, ICOMOS Philippine members met up to discuss the situation of monuments and the current discourse of politics that surround these objects. The conversation was led by Ms. Lila Shahani, former Secretary-General of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines.
Ms. Shahani discussed about the dynamics of politics, national narratives and cultural meanings of monuments. It was then followed by several reactors who discussed the angles of heritage interpretation, plaza development, and cultural politics. An open forum discussion was then facilitated by Dr. Stephen Acabado, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles
ICOMOS Philippines will be exploring further steps to think about deepening the discourse on the topic in the national context.
ICOMOS Philippines member Gabriel Caballero also participate in the global discourse by ICOMOS International entitled, “Diversify / Decolonise Heritage!” which was held online on July 19, 2020, 13:00 Paris Time. The initiative was started by ICOMOS Germany in collaboration with the ICOMOS Emerging Professionals Working Group.
Check out Ms Shahani’s two opinion pieces on Rappler. The first carries forward from the ICOMOS discussion, Rethinking monuments – “Who or what do these monuments celebrate, and what do they leave out? More pointedly, what do they erase and what do they choose to celebrate and canonize? “. The second is about ‘National’ narratives and the Philippine bureaucracy– “Who speaks (and who is spoken for) in the nation? Whose interests does it serve and represent? What does it encompass? ”
Last 24 May 2020, ICOMOS Philippines members and friends met up over zoom to have a “Lighter Side Talk” entitled, “The Basics of Baybayin”. The talk was conducted by prominent broadcaster, Howie Severino and his wife and environmental lawyer Ipat Luna.
After a short presentation on the history and typologies of ancient Philippine text, participants brought their pens out to do impromptu writing in baybayin, which everyone enjoyed.
Howie Severino believes that, “Baybayin is a window to understanding nature, culture, history, heritage, identity, at iba pa, which is why it’s so compelling.”
ICOMOS Philippine member, Fung Yu created a fan-art of the ICOMOS Philippines logo, which brings a Filipino brand to the international prominence of ICOMOS. What do you think about his interpretation?
Veggie packs or cake that were awarded during the talk and members decided to donate these prizes to Covid-19 frontliners, homeless and workers in Baclaran.
ICOMOS Lighter Side Talks was conceptualized by the ICOMOS Philippines Board of Trustees to explore unexplored conversations and lighter topics of heritage and culture for the benefit of ICOMOS Philippine members.
ICOMOS Philippines members came together online last April 25 to discuss the topic entitled, “Heritage Practice Amidst Covid 19”. This discussion is seen as the first step in exploring collective strategies to adapt to new challenges amidst the global pandemic for Filipino heritage practitioners. Members living in different parts of the Philippines, United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Germany and Egypt shared their current situation, challenges and prognosis of Covid-19 in their heritage practice during the 2-hour discussion.
While the pandemic has threatened the heritage practice, many still viewed the resulting changes in the new heritage landscape as opportunities. Following were common experiences:
A. Stalled projects due to site inaccessibility and suspension of government-funded projects or work with local government projects; B. The recent memo from Department of Budgets to keep ‘non-essential’ industries alive results in diminished spending for heritage and mass layoffs for the creative industry; C. Difficulty in engaging students with online learning